Yorkshire woman who was wrongly diagnosed with cancer and had two years of treatment wins payout

A woman from Yorkshire has won a payout after she was wrongly diagnosed with cancer and even had two years worth of treatment.

Megan Royle underwent nine cycles of treatment and after being told she had melanoma, a type of skin cancer. Megan, who was 29 when she was diagnosed, also preserved her eggs due to the treatment she had posing a risk to her fertility.

Doctors at the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, which runs The Royal Marsden Hospital, in London, and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the pathology service used by Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, also in London, both misinterpreted her results in September 2019, leading to the misdiagnosis.

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It was only when she moved to Yorkshire in 2021 and her treatment was transferred to another NHS Trust that she discovered she had been wrongly diagnosed.

Megan Royle was wrongly diagnosed with cancer in 2019Megan Royle was wrongly diagnosed with cancer in 2019
Megan Royle was wrongly diagnosed with cancer in 2019

Megan, who now lives in Beverley, said: “Whenever I tell anybody that this happened to me they say it is quite unbelievable, and even for me it feels a bit like that because it is so hard to get your head around.

“You just can’t really believe something like this can happen, and still to this day I’ve not had an explanation as to how and why it happened. I spent two years believing I had cancer, went through all the treatment and then was told there had been no cancer at all.”

The make-up artist was referred for a dermatology review at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital by her GP in September 2019 after being told a mole, which she’d had on her upper right arm for some time, had recently increased in size, become itchy and had scabbed.

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A biopsy was carried out and reviewed and Megan was told she had melanoma – a type of skin cancer. She was referred to the specialist cancer unit at The Royal Marsden Hospital, where her biopsy was reviewed and, again, she was told it confirmed a melanoma.

Megan Royle works as a make-up artist in the theatre industryMegan Royle works as a make-up artist in the theatre industry
Megan Royle works as a make-up artist in the theatre industry

She was recommended, and subsequently underwent, a 2cm wide local excision of tissue to remove the cancer and told she required adjuvant treatment, which she was warned could impact on her fertility, and was so advised to have egg preservation.

After nine treatment cycles between February 2020 and May 2021, she was told there was no sign of the cancer and was put on a three-monthly review programme.

Now 33, Megan added: “When the doctors sat me down and told me it took a while to sink in. You’d think the immediate emotion would be relief, and in some sense it was, but I’d say the greater emotions were frustration and anger.

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“When I was first told I had cancer and that I needed surgery to remove it and treatment which could impact on my fertility, my approach was simply to say yes, let’s do what we need to do. I wasn’t thinking about having children at that time, but having children was always something I planned for later in life, so having eggs preserved was something I didn’t hesitate doing. All in all, I got my head around it pretty quickly, as difficult as that was.

Megan's arm after the operationMegan's arm after the operation
Megan's arm after the operation

“However, then to be told two years later, having undergone the treatment and lived with the worry, I found being told I’d never had cancer at all hard. I wasn’t in a good place for quite some time to be honest, strange as that may seem.

“Looking back on it now it almost feels like it wasn’t me. I’m not in a relationship at present and I travel with my job, so starting a family is not on the agenda. I was told my fertility could be affected for up to five years after the treatment.”

Following legal representation by Hudgell Solicitors, Megan has now been awarded a compensation settlement, agreed out of court, by Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.

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Associate solicitor Matthew Gascoyne, who represented her, said: “This was obviously a quite unusual case in that Megan was mistakenly diagnosed with skin cancer, something which obviously had a significant psychological impact upon her given her young age. This was exacerbated by her needing surgery, and being advised that the only treatment she could have may impact upon her fertility.

“She suffered from sickness throughout her treatment, so it was a difficult time for her. Finally, the psychological impact was worsened by being given the news that she’d not had cancer at all. All of this was entirely avoidable.

“It was only when her post treatment care was transferred to another Trust that this was discovered. Had she not moved, she may well now still be in a situation where she was believing she was in remission and that the cancer could return.

“As part of our legal case, an independent pathologist also confirmed that the samples showed no cancer. It really was an unusual situation which of course Megan should never have been put through. She is looking forward now and we were pleased to be able to represent her to reach this result.”

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A spokesperson for North West London Pathology, a partnership of three NHS trusts including Imperial College Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are deeply sorry for the distress caused to Ms Royle and apologise unreservedly for the error made. While no settlement will make up for the impact this has had, we are pleased an agreement has been reached.”

A spokesperson from The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust said: “We wish to offer our sincere apologies to Megan Royle for the distress caused by her experience at our trust and we are pleased that a settlement has been agreed.”